Have you ever heard of buccal massage? The term (derived from the latin word bucca, for cheek) is as equally exotic as the technique, which involves massaging muscles deep inside the cheek and jaw area to release tension, improve circulation, and, of course, promote youthful looking skin. Touted as the ultimate facelift alternative without going under the knife, buccal massage is currently practiced by only a handful of facialists in the U.S., and I was lucky enough to receive one by a woman whose own face is proof that it really works.
Celebrity facialist Nichola Joss (who has coaxed Keira Knightley’s and Kate Moss’s cheeks to plump perfection) has the bouncy facial contours of someone easily 15 years her junior. “I felt that facialists were missing the mark with buccal massage, so I wanted to create my own version that used much deeper pressure point and lymphatic-based massage movements,” she said. The result? An even more relaxed face that rests in a more lifted position (hence, the face-lift effect), which can last up to three days, and even longer, if you practice facial massage at home daily with a face oil for five to six minutes.
After Joss left me to luxuriate in a series of masks (first, a warming mud blend, followed by a cold cream-esque moisture mask), she then drenched my face in her Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil and began to massage. Deeply. Joss swept the oil from the center of my face and outwards in small circular motions, and then along the contours of my face, including my cheekbones and jawline. This was easily the most divine part of the facial, and from there the massage turned buccal.
With a pair of surgical gloves and a deep curiosity about the inside of my mouth, Joss massaged my lower gums and and then began to pull my cheek away from the gums. Admittedly, this was the least pleasant part of the facial, but after some prodding, there was definitely a release in my jaw…I immediately felt as if a huge space had opened up in my mouth, and strangely, my head felt lighter, more weightless.
And afterward, my skin also had something of a lit-from-within glow to it, and my cheeks looked deliciously smooth and contoured. I walked away from the facial with plumped-up skin, a less tight jaw, and a determination to try my hand at facial massage.
Click here for a DIY how-to from Joss.
__Where else can you get a buccal massage? Here are a few facialists who offer the treatment—and why they love it. __
Terri Lawton Skincare, Los Angeles: terrilawtom.com
“Over the past twenty years, I have seen much more tension held in my clients’ jaws due to stress and our face-paced lives. Buccal massage relaxes the jaw and often we even see the symmetry of the face change too.”
Isabelle Bellis Center, NYC: isabellebellis.com
“Buccal massage improves circulation and is like Pilates for the face. Not only do my clients notice that their lips look plumper, but it also smooths facial lines and increases collagen production.”
Kristina Holey, San Francisco: kristinaholey.com
“Face massages help you know your skin. It works because the aesthetician can better target your facial tissues from both inside and out; and pressing those tissues helps reduce dullness, boost circulation, and loosen the tiny muscles throughout the mouth, upper lips, cheeks, and jaw.”